The season began with a lot of uncertainty over game time for Santi Cazorla; the arrivals of Alexis Sanchez and Danny Welbeck, along with attacking players like Walcott, Podolski, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, Ozil, Wilshere and World Cup star Joel Campbell giving good reason to believe that Cazorla’s days on the team sheet may be numbered. This is Cazorla’s third season in England after joining Arsenal in the summer of 2012 from Malaga for an undisclosed fee believed to be between £12-15million. Since signing, the Spaniard has netted a total of 20 times in 87 appearances for the club, an average of just under 1 goal every four matches (not bad for a midfielder).
With untimely injuries to players rivalling him for an attacking role on the team sheet, Cazorla seems to be saving Arsene Wenger from enduring a festive headache after hitting a purple patch. The midfield maestro has hit 4 goals in his last 5 league games for the Gunners, also chipping in with 1 assist. Cazorla’s recent form can really be appreciated when comparing his statistics with that of other in-form midfielders for the big clubs around Arsenal in the league:
The statistics above represent averages per 90 minutes for; total number of forward passes, number of chances created, total number of passes overall, and total ‘score’ which is based on attack, defence and possession statistics.In each of the selected categories (categories which are arguably the most important for an attacking midfielder to be successful), Cazorla ranks #2 whereas others fluctuate between rank. Cazorla therefore represents the highest consistency, despite seemingly going under the radar when looking at the other top attacking players at other clubs who are doing well.
With regard to his own team, statistics would show that he is also leading the way for the Gunners when compared with the club’s two new signings too:
With Sanchez and Welbeck making the headlines with their goals, Cazorla’s success is going largely unnoticed. Albeit that Welbeck often plays the number #9 role for Arsenal, he can (and has) been utilised in the wide-attacking positions, similar to Cazorla. The statistics therefore show that Cazorla is Arsenal’s most valuable, fit attacking midfielder as the matches come thick and fast.
Early on in the season, the 30-year-old revealed his season targets, telling Arsenal: “I hope to equal or beat my goalscoring tally from last year,” he said. “That’s something every player wants to achieve. Hopefully I’ll help the team with many goals because that would be a signal that I can be useful. Apart from that, I’d like to play as much as possible. Luckily the manager has always trusted me in the previous two years. I played a good number of games and hopefully I’ll keep doing so.”
Cazorla scored just 4 goals last season in the Premier League, thus already equalling his tally this season when only half way through the fixtures. If he can remain fit, the Spanish international could prove to be the vital component needed to emulate Liverpool’s surprising siege on Manchester City’s claim for the Premier League crown last season. With Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United stuttering at the top of the table in the most recent gameweek, Arsenal must continue to push on up the league and hold their own.